Eritrean community centers in Sweden were recently firebombed. These events are taking place amid rising tensions in the international community., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
By Thomas C. Mountain
On Sunday night February 24 three Eritrean community centers in Stockholm, Sweden were firebombed and burnt to the ground following a vicious attack on the Swedish Eritrean population by a program broadcast by Stockholm television station SVT.
The pogrom style “documentary” was a clear message to racist elements in the Swedish community to attack the Eritrean community, one of the largest, best organized and nationalist African communities in Sweden.
Racist fire bombings in their capital yet not one Swedish parliamentarian, human rights group or religious organization has spoken out publicly to condemn these violent attacks?
And what of the so publicly vociferous “defenders of Eritrean human rights in Eritrea” such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch?
A shameful silence, continuing both organizations long history of such when it comes to really defending Eritrean “human rights” going back decades.
The television program that sparked the fire bombings was a one sided rant that focused on the support Eritreans in Sweden have for their homeland Eritrea, in particular the voluntary 2% income tax all Eritreans pay to their government, a tax that has been critical in funding, amongst other programs, the human services that have made Eritrea one of the few countries in Africa on its way to meeting the UN Millennium Development goals.
Programs that have helped Eritrea reduce malaria mortality by 80%, the biggest breakthrough in malaria mortality prevention in history.
Programs that have lead to a “remarkable” increase in longevity in Eritrea, according to the World Bank, certainly no friend of Eritrea.
Programs that have brought real “human rights” to Eritreans in villages across the country such as clean drinking water, medical clinics and schools.
Sweden, the UK and the USA have all tried to block Eritreans supporting their homeland, threatening Eritreans publicly for paying their 2% while trying their best to prevent the collection of such by the Eritrean Embassies in the three countries.
In the USA Eritreans from all over the country have to find a way to pay their 2% in cash to the Eritrean Embassy in Washington D.C. due to the Obama regimes suppression of all bank accounts and remittance services by the Eritrean government in the USA.
Eritreans have never been ones to take such attacks laying down and this past weekend saw thousands of Eritreans gather from across Sweden to march through the bitterly cold streets of Stockholm to the Swedish Parliament to protest these racist attacks. Yet still not a single Swedish media outlet found the time to cover this demonstration.
One can only wonder what attacks lie in store for the Eritrean communities in these so called “democratic, human rights loving countries”? As Eritrea continues to reject western aid as it builds its economy, the fastest growing in Africa, and improve the lives of its people all the while fighting off continued military invasions by the Ethiopian regime the question of the right of Eritreans living abroad to support their country and its government will be a focus of the western regimes frustration and one would be well served by preparing for worse to come.
Arbitrary arrest and detention under the guise of fighting “terrorism”? Mass deportations? Eritreans experienced these crimes committed by the western supported Ethiopian regime in the late 1990’s and the world should start preparing itself for the possibility of a repeat of such in the so called “western democracies”.
The one thing that can be counted on is the continued silence of those self anointed defenders of human rights such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.
Thomas C. Mountain is the most widely distributed independent journalist in Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.